Warriors

Warriors' Steph Curry talks media backlash, Stephen A. Smith responds

Warriors' Steph Curry talks media backlash, Stephen A. Smith responds

The Warriors were horrible the first two games of the season.

They dropped their opener to the Clippers, 141-122, and trailed by as many as 42 in a 28-point loss to the Thunder.

After the loss in Oklahoma City, ESPN's Stephen. A Smith had a lot to say Monday morning on "First Take."

"Let me be very, very clear -- the Warriors look absolutely positively atrocious. It's an embarrassment ... you're not supposed to be this bad. I'm talking about competitive play, I'm talking about fight, I'm talking about going down swinging.

"They have gotten annihilated and it's a disgraceful performance ... excuse me, your name is the Warriors for crying out loud. It ain't the 'Golden State Punks.' It's the Warriors! Go out there, and be a Warrior!"

After Golden State beat the Pelicans on Monday night, Warriors superstar Steph Curry responded to a reporter's question about critics without mentioning Smith specifically.

"Everybody loves to label you when you're down or when you're losing," Curry said. "That's easy. It's easy to get on TV and say whatever you want. It's easy to just throw darts at a team that's trying to figure it out based on how much success we've had.

"I hope people can start to see through that and understand what we're about as a team and what we're going to build towards. That's basically it. If you want to get on and say whatever you want to say, and fill that 24-hour news cycle, that's cool with us. We're still going to hoop and just play basketball."

Tuesday morning on "First Take," it was Smith's turn to react.

"Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in the history of basketball. Steph Curry is a future Hall of Famer. Steph Curry is a champion and he's one of the best people you will ever meet in your life. Got nothing but love for the brother. But when he sits up there and says it's easy for folks to get at you while you're down -- he has a point, he's not wrong.

"Until you take into consideration folks that spend their hard-earned money to come out and watch you perform and see what we saw the first two games. Let me be very, very clear -- I said that the Warriors in the first two games looked like trash. And I meant every damn word of it. It's a fact.

"I certainly wasn't talking about him because Steph Curry gonna be Steph Curry. I'm talking about effort on the defensive end of the floor. When you look like you didn't come to play with effort to open the NBA season, why would we not call you out?

"As fans, you don't have a right to get on them (the players) all the damn time. But you do have a right to look at them as ballplayers and say, 'Yo, are you gonna play? What the hell you doing?' And the first two games, that's what they provoked. I stand by what I said.

"I respect the hell out of Steph Curry, but I know what I saw about the Golden State Warriors."

Smith's "First Take" host Max Kellerman then weighed in.

"Athletes frequently use what they perceive as criticism to fuel themselves ... they're looking for motivation because they're competing against the other best athletes in the world. And you give them, Stephen A., in this case, low-hanging fruit."

OK. This doesn't happen very often but I agree with all three people involved.

Smith is paid to go on TV and give his opinions. And while his delivery can be exaggerated at times for entertainment's sake, we all can agree that the Warriors didn't give maximum effort the first two games and the defense was non-existent (even Draymond said so).

[RELATEDDraymond rips those who questioned his leadership style]

They were missing Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein and have a bunch of new and young players. But the optics were bad and fans have a right to be disappointed -- even if they understand the early-season growing pains.

Kellerman's point about manufacturing motivation is spot on, and anybody who has played competitive sports is nodding in agreement.

Over the years, Steph and Draymond repeatedly have acknowledged they hear the outside noise -- which isn't going away just because the Warriors are no longer title favorites.

The "bulletin board material" will keep coming and perhaps Golden State needs it now more than ever.

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Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

For the final regular-season game in Oracle Arena history, Warriors star Steph Curry arrived rocking a No. 8 Monta Ellis jersey.

"Obviously, a lot of history that Monta was able to be a part of with the 'We Believe' Warriors era, and when I got here my rookie year, he was that guy," Curry told reporters back on April 7. "And I think for me, in terms of representing him on the last game, it meant a lot because we were in that backcourt together. 

"When he was traded it was a tough time in terms of the transition of the organization and things like that. I wanted to pay, obviously, honor to him in terms of his story, coming out of high school and doing what he was able to do. He was an Oakland fan, Warrior fan. Beloved guy."

Shortly after he got wind of Curry's gesture, Monta reacted on Instagram. But he recently expanded on his feelings.

"The biggest thing that I always wanted to do, like, when I leave this Earth, is know that I impacted somebody in some shape or form, no matter if it was on or off the basketball court," he told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "That’s my biggest thing.

"So to hear that from him, man, it just means I did what I was supposed to do. I made an impact on somebody’s life before I left here.”

During the 2009-10 season -- Curry's rookie campaign -- Ellis averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game.

[RELATEDKerr explains why he prefers Thanksgiving over Christmas]

The following year, he racked up 24.1 points and 5.6 assists per contest, while Curry registered 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per night.

Although Monta was disappointed with how the franchise handled his trade to Milwaukee in March 2012, he has nothing but love for Dub Nation.

“That’s my second home,” he told Thompson. “I love Oakland. The fans are like no other. I’ve never seen any other fans in America like Oracle.”

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Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Steve Kerr knew this season would be different, how could he not?

Still, even the Warriors head coach couldn't have predicted how drastically different his sixth season in the Bay would be. 

Kevin Durant left to become a Net. Klay Thompson likely will miss the entire season rehabbing his torn ACL. Then, Steph Curry broke his left hand and will be re-evaluated in February and D'Angelo Russell missed nine of the first 21 games with a thumb sprain. This has left Kerr to lead a group of rookies, role players and reclamation projects through the NBA season.

Dynasties aren't built to last. Kerr, a six-time NBA champion as a player and coach, knows that. He knows how fleeting championship runs can be. The Warriors have gone from dreaded bully thirsting for June champagne to a champion laying on the canvas as a 12-month recharge washes over them.

“No,” Kerr laughed when NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson asked if he thought anyone savored last season's run when he told them to. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors will be back. That's the plan at least. This season serves as a reboot point. A mere pitstop in a dynasty that has been paused not concluded.

But plans, even those best laid, rarely go as drawn up. Kerr knows that. That's why he implored everyone from Curry to those sitting in the nosebleeds at Oracle Arena to enjoy one of the most impressive runs in NBA history.

You never know when things will come back, and things surely never will be the way they were when Curry and Warriors were pulverizing teams into oblivion en route to five-straight NBA Finals appearances.

That ride, as Kerr predicted, came to an end.

A new one has begun.

[RELATED: Warriors' plan might draw speculation after two inexplicable losses]

The Warriors sit at 4-19. Rookies Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman have played well, as has veteran swingman Glenn Robinson III. But it's unlikely to amount to many wins this season. It's instead about teaching, about growth for next season when a fully loaded Warriors team will enact its vengeance on an NBA that is taking pleasure in pummeling the wounded champions. 

That will be a sweet moment for Kerr and the Warriors, should it come.

Pleasure, in sports and in life is, fleeting. Titles come. Confetti falls. Elation hits. Then, it's on to next year, and one day, before you've blinked, things are different. The run is over and a new course has been charted.

That course is expected to get the Warriors back to the top soon. If it does, expect everyone to heed Kerr's advice and enjoy the ride.